Saturday, May 30, 2009

A Little Of The Old In And Out

In: Prince Harry. Yes -- Prince Harry has had a checkered past. And, yes, that past involves a stupid, tasteless Nazi uniform. There was some racial bluster in the military against brown people. But is there anyone that really thinks that Prince Harry is a David Duke racist? He suffered a pretty fucked up youth -- Mom died publicly (check), parents affairs exposed by Fleet Street (check) -- and he is probably the illegitimate son of the disgusting "Captain Cad" James Hewitt (Harry's flaming red hair is neither Spenceruian nor Windsoresque). These facts, aired for all of the UK to see and comment upon, could fuck up any normal man's shit for life. On the real, yo.

Still, Harry appears to be trying to overcome. Today he holds Governor's Island captive, playing Polo for a worthy charity after spending yesterday soaking up the personal meaning of 9/11 from the perspective of the victims families. It was a decisive moment for the West, as well as the "special relationship" between the U.S. and Great Britian; any possible-future King of England should have some direct knowledge of that tragic event. And this morning the possible-future was touring inner-city schools in Harlem. Not bad, say us. From CBSNews:

"Prince Harry wraps up his whirlwind, 36-hour first official visit to the United States Saturday with a visit to a community group in New York City’s Harlem, and a charity polo match.

"A stop at the World Trade Center site was among the highlights after he arrived Friday.

"Observers say image-polishing is high on Harry's list of priorities during the visit.

Buckingham Palace 'is determined that the royal wild side won't surface on this trip,' says CBS News correspondent Elizabeth Palmer.

"One of Harry’s polo teammates on Saturday, Emma Tomlinson, told CBS News, 'It's very important to Prince Harry that money is raised for this wonderful charity, Sentebale.'

"Sentebale, founded by Harry in the tiny African kingdom of Lesotho, helps finance homes and education for AIDS orphans, a cause first embraced Harry’s mother, the late Princess Diana."

Anyone who thinks Prince Harry is a racist and not just an angry youth having gone through some issues, trying to reform himself, really needs to smooth themselves out.

Out: Jay Leno. We have never been fans of Jay Leno's thoroughly untaxing, carefully-scrubbed, lower-middlebrow style of ushering America into the land of slumber. Our bullshit detectors, we have been told, are the sharpest in The West. We call shenanegans on Jay Leno as "Mr. Nice Guy."

Leno's iteration of the Carson show lacked edge. Tailor-made for the intellectually woozy, people who prefer him prefer their entertainment of the safe side of life are the types who cling to Leno. Letterman, by contrast, is for those who respect edgier, unexpected happenings on late at night (Or, nowadays via DVR, early hungover mornings). And then there is the fakeness of being a man-of-the-people with a rare car collection (C'mon, Jay). And don't get us started on how Leno got the job (Then-manager Helen Kushnick's hardballing). Or Leno's feud with Howard Stern over the behind-his-back hiring of John Melendez.

Given Bill Carter's history with the late-night talker, revealing how he succeeded Carson, despite Carson's preference for Letterman, he was the perfect man to close the book on Leno's tenure. From Bill Carter of the New York Times:

"After 17 years as the host of 'The Tonight Show,' Mr. Leno’s final show on Friday night, his 3,775th, was much like many of the others, filled with monologue jokes and some of his signature comedy pieces.

"... During Mr. Leno’s final week as the host of 'The Tonight Show,' the ratings were up each night by about 21 percent on average over his ratings this year. His second-to-last show, with a special song tribute from Billy Crystal, was up 33 percent. (The figures for the week are based on preliminary ratings; NBC will not have audience-figure totals until next week.) The numbers may not approach the more than 40 million viewers who watched Johnny Carson’s last night on 'Tonight,' but that was in 1992, and unlike Mr. Carson, Mr. Leno is not retiring."

More here.

In: Is A Middle East Peace Based On The Two State Solution? The American right-wing, of late, is arguing that a two-state solution will not ultimately solve the Middle East situation. The President, by way of contrast, is gambling that a two-state solution -- and the peeling off Syria's alliance with Iran with a possible giveback of the Golan Heights -- will be just the ticket for some movement on the lack of diplomatic traction in the region. If Hillary can pull off an Israeli-Syrian peace then she deserves the Nobel Peace Prize, the grandaddy of consolation prizes for near-Presidencies.

President Obama's trip to Saudi Arabia next week, the day before he speaks in Egypt -- the intellectual capital of the Middle East -- will no doubt involve working the room to keep oil prices low, hindering Iranian adventurism. Ahmadinejad gets geometrically saucier depending on how far past $60-a-barrel oil goes (Remember the '60 Minutes' mouthiness and the raucous speech at Bollinger's Columbia when oil prices per barrel were insane?). For further reference as to why this is so, see: Friedman's "First Law of Petropolitics." But there is also the veiled suggestion, in focusing next week ahead of Iranian and Lebanese elections, on Sunni strongholds like Saudi Arabia and Egypt, of strategic balance.

The Obama administration clearly hopes Iran's Presidential elections will oust the intransigent Ahmadinejad and favor the more malleable Mir Hossein Mousavi. As the neocons never fail to remind us, 70 percent of Iran's population is under 30. And President Obama has magic with the under-30 vote, even in "hostile" territory. If the stars are aligned properly and all of these previously mentioned factors work in the President's favor, we might just have the first shot at a Middle East peace in generations. Maybe. From ForeignPolicy:

"Last night, shortly after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told journalists that the Obama administration 'wants to see a stop to settlements -- not some settlements, not outposts, not natural growth exceptions,' Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called a confidante. Referring to Clinton's call for a settlement freeze, Netanyahu groused, 'What the hell do they want from me?' according to his associate, who added, 'I gathered that he heard some bad vibes in his meetings with [U.S.] congressional delegations this week.'

"In the 10 days since Netanyahu and President Barack Obama held a meeting at the White House, the Obama administration has made clear in public and private meetings with Israeli officials that it intends to hold a firm line on Obama's call to stop Israeli settlements. According to many observers in Washington and Israel, the Israeli prime minister, looking for loopholes and hidden agreements that have often existed in the past with Washington, has been flummoxed by an unusually united line that has come not just from Obama White House and the secretary of state, but also from pro-Israel congressmen and women who have come through Israel for meetings with him over Memorial Day recess. To Netanyahu's dismay, Obama doesn't appear to have a hidden policy. It is what he said it was.

"'This is a sea change for Netanyahu,' a former senior Clinton administration official who worked on Middle East issues said. The official said that the basis of the Obama White House's resolve is the conviction that it is in the United States' as well as Israel's interest to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 'We have significant, existential threats that Israel faces from Iran and that the U.S. faces from this region. It is in our mutual interest to end this conflict, and to begin to build new regional alliances.'

"... Netanyahu and [Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor] Lieberman are probing, looking for areas they can get space gratis from the United States,' says Hussein Ibish, a senior fellow at the American Task Force for Palestine. 'And they are not finding it."

"We've been watching the move in Congress, especially among certain high profile Jewish American members -- people like Representative Gary Ackerman, Representative Robert Wexler, and Representative Howard Berman,' Ibish said. 'What has occurred -- and this has been greatly intensified by the election of Obama: There has been a growing sense of members of Congress who are well-informed on foreign policy ... that peace is essential to the American national interest and the Israeli national interest. And there's been a growing sense that the possibility of a two-state agreement is time-limited and that things like the settlements are incompatible with the goal of creating two states.'

"The changed dynamic in Washington has impressed Palestinian audiences. At a breakfast yesterday morning with Palestinian American policy hands near Pentagon City, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said that he was extremely impressed with the Obama administration's resolve on policies that it sees as crucial for getting out of the current status quo -- after years of drift that have seen Jewish settlements expand to almost 300,000 people on land the Palestinians envision as part of a future Palestinian state.

"Abbas had a private meeting with Obama at the White House this afternoon, followed by an expanded meeting in the Oval Office with Obama, White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, Clinton, and other U.S. officials. 'We are a stalwart ally of Israel and it is in our interests to assure that Israel is safe and secure,' Obama said in a joint press conference with Abbas after the meeting. "It is our belief that the best way to achieve that is to create the conditions on the ground and set the stage for a Palestinian state as well."

What is most interesting about this development is the surrogates President Obama is playing in The Great game that is Middle Eastern power politics. His deck of cards includes: Hillary Clinton, Rahm Emmanuel, Gary Ackerman and Robert Wexler -- all have unimpeachably Pro-Israel records. This gives the President maneuvering room to play tough with Netanyahu and the Israeli right. If President Obama's position as a bona fide friend of Israel is as yet untested -- though he received 77 percent of the Jewish vote in 2008 -- these prominent Democrats, all behind Obama without even a hair's breadth of policy difference on a two-state solution, bolster the President's argument. They are -- in a unified block -- presenting a case that is decidedly contrary to the perceived mandate of the Netanyahu-Lieberman coalition government, which was elected on a mandate of toughness on Israel's national security.

President Obama's mandate, by contrast, is one of Change. And you have to admire the breadth of his changes in policy regarding Middle East peace -- and the risks entailed. No region in recent memory is as fraught with political danger for a President. The President has doubled down. It would have been so much easier had another Barack -- Ehud Barack -- been the victor in the Israeli elections. But it was the prescience -- political luck? -- that Netanyahu's dire predictions of Katyusha rockets raining down from the West Bank after Sharon's givebacks came true, propelling him to yet another Prime Ministership of Israel, resurrected from the political dead.

The ball is in the court of Netanyahu, Lieberman and the Palestinians to see if they can hammer out a workable 2-state solution. Right now the Netanyahu-Lieberman alliance is snagged on the question of West Bank settlements. Their mandate is based on a tough national security stance; Obama's mandate is based on "Change." And never the twain shall meet?

Former Vice President Cheney, we cannot fail to note, has been thus far the right-wing go-to guy for the legacy of neoconservatism. Cheney exudes, ironically-operatically, all the pessimism of the past vis-a-vis the possibility of a two-state solution. It is not inconceivable that the unmuzzled former Vice President may side in the near future with the Netanyahu-Lieberman hard right agenda, trying to bolster his legacy, further his "principles" (And, if we may be so skeptical: split Obama's support within the Jewish community along the lines of the-2-state-solution-is-naive, especially in swing states like all-important Florida).

This course of action would be unfortunate, unwise, counterproductive to American interests in the region and, alas, given the tenor of the former Vice Presidents remarks on the War on Terror of late, quite possible.
Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

(image via

"Stay tuned for live updates from polo match: Prince Harry vs. Argentine pro and (Ralph lauren) model Nacho Figueras." (WWD/Twitter) LIVE UPDATES here (hit refresh)

"With some of the world’s best athletes speeding across a field at 35mph on horseback, hitting a ball, and frequently colliding with each other, polo is as beautiful as it is dangerous. 'Speed, danger, strategy and teamwork, are all the ingredients that a sport needs to be huge,' says polo’s version of Brad Pitt, Ignacio 'Nacho' Figueras. The tall, dark, and handsome Argentine—who moonlights as the face of Ralph Lauren fragrances—will captain the Black Watch team this Saturday at the second annual Manhattan Polo Classic, sponsored by Veuve Clicquot on Governor’s Island. Anglophiles take note: Also saddling up will be HRH Prince Harry, who is in town for his first official state visit. Proceeds from ticket sales will benefit the American Friends of Sentebale." (Blackbookmag)

"Less than two years ago, Claudia Schiffer declared that the age of the supermodel was over. Magazine covers and beauty contracts had become the province of celebrities. The industry's newest generation had not quite attained the international, first-name basis fame that Naomi, Cindy and Christy had pioneered. A lot has changed in two years. While fashion magazines and retail brands still market their wares with stars from music and movies, models have moved off the runway in equal measure, expanding their brands into fashion, entertainment and philanthropy. The age of the multi-hyphenate model has replaced the age of the supermodel, giving the top girls more earning power than ever before ..A perfect example is the No. 2 earner on our list, Heidi Klum. While still a successful model at the age of 35 after having three kids, the majority of Klum's earnings are driven by her TV and endorsement career. Klum remains a member of the Victoria's Secret angel entourage as well as host of Project Runway and Germany's Next Top Model .. Returning at No. 1 this year is Gisele Bündchen, who earned an estimated $25 million in the last year from numerous campaigns including Versace, True Religion jeans, Dior, and Ebel watches." (Forbes)

"Former President George W. Bush called former President Bill Clinton 'his brother' and the two rarely disagreed in their first-ever appearance together on stage. The Republican and Democratic ex-presidents defended each other at a Toronto forum on Friday, disappointing some in the crowd of 6,000 who expected a more heated debate. Mr. Bush said that he never liked it when previous administration officials criticized his government, but said Mr. Clinton was respectful and never did. Mr. Bush declined to criticize the Obama administration, in contrast to former Vice President Dick Cheney, who has been a vocal critic of the sitting president. Mr. Bush, who wasn't asked about Cheney, said there are 'plenty of critics in America.' The two former chief executives did differ on Iraq: Mr. Clinton said U.N. inspectors should have been given more time to conduct the search for weapons of mass destruction and that President Bush should have concentrated on Afghanistan. Mr. Bush disagreed. 'I don't buy the premise that our attention was diverted,' Mr. Bush said. Mr. Bush joked about how much time his father, former President George H.W. Bush, and Clinton spend together. He said his mother, Barbara Bush, 'said President Clinton and Father share the stage so much, he's like a son to her.' He said, "So brother, it's good to see you." (CBSNews)

"Since moving into the White House four months ago Michelle and Barack Obama have made one thing crystal clear: they have no intention of staying home. Not even in those luxurious digs. As devotees of good food and fine wine they have decided to shake up the conventional Washington scene by stepping out, having fun—going out on the town. And not to traditional boring embassy functions or the well-appointed homes of desperate hostesses either. The Obamas are genuinely enjoying city life, corralling friends for impromptu forays at an eclectic mix of DC restaurants—cutting a wide swath from downtown to the Capitol and DuPont Circle, to Georgetown and even Arlington, Virginia—leaving a gaggle of star struck proprietors and fellow diners in their glossy wake. (Quite unlike the Bushes, who preferred to hunker down with Tex-Mex inside the confines of 1600 Pa. Ave.)" (TheDailyBeast)

(Jane Campion's 'Bright Star' via IndieWIRE)

"The triple threat of film festivals that end off the summer - Telluride, Venice and, especially, Toronto - are an unofficial trinity kicking off awards season. Fall schedules are finalized and ‘For Your Consideration’ campaigns are set in motion, and from that point on awards prognosticators scurry to keep up with constant shifts in buzz. But inklings of what’s to come can often materialize much earlier .. The most obvious category that Cannes should affect is best foreign language film .. Perhaps Penelope Cruz has an outside shot at best actress for 'Rotos' (though the film’s relatively mild reception doesn’t bode particularly well), as does non-Cannes foreign entry 'Coco Before Chanel'‘s lead Audrey Tatou (the film has already opened in France, where it’s been a huge success) ..Jane Campion’s 'Bright Star' is probably the most likely film from the Cannes competition to make inroads with awards season. Campion is one of only three women to be nominated for a best director Oscar (for 'The Piano,' back in 1993)." (IndieWIRE)

"John Kerry has never run for sheriff. As chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee he is starting to act like one, and the world is his jurisdiction. The Massachusetts Democrat is wielding his gavel with an investigative zeal, and plans to take on Iran’s nuclear program, gun-running on the Mexican border, terrorism, narcotics and human trafficking, all through the prism of money laundering. He has hired a former investigative reporter, an ex-CIA agent and a one-time managing director of Bear Stearns Cos. LLC to help him. 'There are lots of big pieces out there that depend on money moving,' he said in an interview in his office in the Senate, where he is serving his 24th year. Kerry, who was a prosecutor and attorney in Massachusetts before starting his political career in 1982, said the lack of congressional oversight during the Bush administration left behind a target-rich environment for his panel. The Treasury Department 'has its hands full' and is 'inadequately resourced' to pursue these inquiries, he said ..The wide mandate Kerry has set for his panel, though, creates an expectation for significant results. It also opens the possibility that his agenda will collide with that of President Barack Obama or cause friction with other agencies specifically charged with conducting investigations." (Bloomberg)

"For the past few years, it seemed as though the broadcast networks had all but abandoned Friday nights. No one save CBS made a serious effort to air scripted programming, with a mix of reality shows, reruns and newsmagazines filling the evening. That won’t be the case this fall. All of the Big Five networks are making an effort to draw viewers on Friday night by airing scripted programming, including veteran shows like 'Ugly Betty,' 'Medium' and 'Smallville' that have thrived on other nights. There are a number of reasons for this change, not the least of which is the development of the DVR, which allows viewers to record programs for later viewing. Friday, a night when many people are out, would seem the ideal night for airing shows with strong DVR potential." (Medialifemagazine)

"After fifteen years running the New York Observer, today is Peter Kaplan's final day on the job. He'll start Monday as creative director of Condé Nast Traveler. Kaplan groomed countless young journalists in his years at the Observer, many of whom now populate the city's more remunerative newsrooms. Jesse Oxfeld spoke to a number of Observer alums to create an oral history of the Kaplan era." (NYMag)

"'Meet the Press with David Gregory' was #1 again last week, but the gap continues to shrink in the Sunday morning ratings race. 'Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer' came in second place, up 33% in Total Viewers and up 17% in A25-54 viewers. And for the 17th consecutive week, 'This Week with George Stephanopoulos' closed the Total Viewing gap with 'Meet' by 59% versus the same weeks last year (570,000 in '09 vs. 1,400,000 in '08)." (TVNewser)

Friday, May 29, 2009

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"In fact, (The Countess') marriage to the Count Alexandre de Lesseps has been the subject of much speculation in recent weeks, with her rep ultimately confirming rumors of a split. She vowed to cling to her noble title, nevertheless, she told the Daily Transom. 'And the jewelry!' she added, laughing." (Observer)

"George W. Bush was rarely heard from during his final months in office. Hideously unpopular, and never personally interested in policy matters, he did his best to stay out of the limelight. Even as his administration took repeated, drastic policy measures—nationalizing AIG, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac, requesting $700 billion in TARP funds, etc.—to deal with the unraveling of the global financial system, he lurked in the bankground and left the sales job up to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson. But now Bush is back, with a speech delivered yesterday to the Economic Club of Southwest Michigan. It's a pretty obscure gig for a guy who was, until recently, the leader of the free world." (TheDailyBeast)

"'Jon and Kate Plus 8' may soon be minus one parent, but the show itself is gaining viewers. After the tabloids whipped themselves into a frenzy the past month covering the marital discord between reality TV stars Jon and Kate Gosselin, Monday’s fifth-season premiere of the TLC reality show scored the best numbers in network history. Jon and Kate averaged an astounding 9.8 million total viewers, likely the biggest audience ever for a cable reality show and easily the most-watched program on TLC. That was more than 4 million better than the previous most-watched episode of Jon and Kate, the fourth-season finale, which averaged 4.6 million in March. The show averaged a 9.1 rating among women 18-34 as well as a 6.3 among 18-34s, beating broadcast in the 9 p.m. timeslot." (Medialifemagazine)

"MADONNA'S ex, Alex Rodriguez, is nursing his hurt ego with Kate Hudson. They've been together for little more than a week, but already Hudson is following A-Rod around. She even stayed with him at the Hotel ZaZa in Dallas Wednesday night after the Yankees played the Texas Rangers." (PageSix)

(image via humorrisk)

"In the aftermath of the Gawker poopiness it now seems pertinent to look at what can be learned. When BloodCopy became a 'part' of the editorial body (despite being an advertisement for HBO's True Blood), it sort of prevented the edit staff from disemboweling the campaign as they might normally — don't bite the hand that feeds etc etc and so on. But the real questions are, why not let the edit staff run rampant and what would happen if they did?" (AgencySpy)

"On Tuesday, New Jersey Republicans will go to the polls to choose their nominee to battle Gov. Jon Corzine in the fall campaign .. The state does not have its own media markets, so it is extraordinarily difficult to achieve the name identification and favorability ratings necessary to win a statewide contest. Wide swaths of New Jersey voters watch television shows broadcast from Philadelphia and New York. For every dollar spent on broadcast television campaign advertising on New York or Philadelphia television stations in a statewide GOP primary, only 7 cents is spent communicating a message to people who can vote for your candidate. That means 93 cents goes to spread the word to people who live in Pennsylvania or New York or Delaware, or to Democrats, Independents and unaffiliated voters in New Jersey. Consequently, smart GOP campaigns will spend their advertising dollars on direct mail and radio. That makes for efficient primary campaigns. But oh, does it create a challenge in a general election. Because only Republicans get the targeted mailings during the primary, the nominee doesn't start out as a known quantity among the Independents, unaffiliated voters and Democrats who make up more than 60 percent of the fall electorate." (CQPolitics)

"'I've never entered the Armory this way,' observed Marc Jacobs as he arrived to collect his Hall of Fame honor during the 37th Annual Fragrance Foundation FiFi Awards ceremony Wednesday night .. Lisa Hoffman went empty-handed with her unique boutique nod that went to Tom Ford. But she did have husband Dustin to console her. After all, she's been there for his Oscar wins and snubs for the last 30 years. 'I so prefer when the spotlight is still on him, so I can come to industry things like this and still relax,' she explained. 'But it's kind of amazing to be nominated for this so I can actually drag Dustin to one of my awards shows.'" (Fashionweekdaily)

"Anthony Marshall, accused of swindling millions of dollars from his mother, Brooke Astor, didn’t disclose his fee for arranging the $10 million sale of a Childe Hassam painting she owned, her former lawyer said. 'You were not told of a $2 million commission?' Elizabeth Loewy, assistant district attorney, asked lawyer Henry Christensen III yesterday in Marshall’s trial in New York State Supreme Court. 'I certainly was not,' said Christensen, 64, who represented both Marshall and Astor in tax and estate matters until 2004. Marshall, 84, is charged with grand larceny for his role in the 2002 sale of 'Up the Avenue from 34th Street, May 1917,' the most serious accusation in an 18-count indictment. If convicted, he faces up to 25 years in prison. Prosecutors allege Marshall induced his physically and mentally frail mother to sell the artwork by convincing her she was running out of money. Philippe de Montebello, former chief of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, testified earlier this month that whenever he visited Astor’s Park Avenue duplex she promised to give the Hassam painting to the museum." (Bloomberg)

"I.F. Stone, known to his friends and admirers, as 'Izzy,' was one of the great political reporters of the our time. D.D. Guttenplan, whose friends call him Don, is a London based correspondent for the Nation. Guttenplan has written a brilliant biography about the maverick muckraker. The son of a peddler, I.F. Stone. was born in the slums of Philadelphia. A high-school dropout, he was by the age of twenty-five, an influential New York City reporter. In his 20s, he met the young woman, Esther Roisman, who would become his wife and life-long partner on a blind date, wooing her with poems he wrote himself. Esther would later handle the business side of the I.F. Stone Weekly. A party celebrating the publication of this book, which coincides with the twentieth anniversary of Stone’s death, was held this week at the apartment of Annie & Victor Navasky." (NYSocialDiary)

"Matthew McConaughey's head lately appears hairier than before because, says Kate Hudson, 'He constantly rubs his scalp with tonic. Doesn't even bother him that everybody sees it.'" (CindyAdams)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

A Little Of The Old In And Out

In: OPEC. The center of geopolitical power moves Eastward even as The West disentangles itself from the consequences of the bubble. T-Secretary Tim Geithner heads to China to speak with top Chinese leaders. And the politics of OPEC now dominate the global economy. But even as "green shoots" signalling recovery are spotted around the bleak economic landscape, the price of oil will have major impact on how soon we get out of this recession. From WSJ:

"A simple calculus underlies OPEC's decision to leave its oil spigots steady: the group's big production cuts since late 2008 are starting to bite, and the world oil market is starting to bounce the cartel's way after exacting a heavy toll on members' economies.

"The recent increase in crude prices -- in part due to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries' slashing its output -- has given oil ministers some peace of mind that the worst of the global economic recession's impact on oil prices appears to have passed.

"'We feel the market has been reacting positively,' OPEC President and Angolan oil minister Jose Maria Botelho de Vasconcelos said. "We will wait for this trend to grow slowly."

"Oil prices set a fresh six-month high Thursday of $64.99 a barrel in New York, following the OPEC meeting. Prices are up about 40% since OPEC's last meeting in March, though still well below a record high of $147 a barrel hit last July.

"With prices on the rise, OPEC Thursday glossed over the fact some members, such as Iran and Venezuela, are pumping well above their production targets agreed in late 2008. Such quota-busting is typically a source of frustration inside the group.

"OPEC Secretary-General Abdalla Salem El-Badri applauded the group's roughly 80% compliance with total cuts of 4.2 million barrels a day agreed to in late 2008, but he called for more discipline."

Thus far it looks like oil prices will keep steady. But the price of oil will have a direct correlative effect on how Iran approaches the Obama administrations overtures for peace in the Middle East. No doubt this is on the President's mind as he ventures, next week, to Egypt and Saudi Arabia. More here.

Out: Michael Bloomberg, Dick. Increasingly the bilionaire New York Mayor comes off as a dick. And his buddy Arnold aint doing so hot either (Bloomberg/Schwarzenegger '16? We think not). Bloomberg's Eagle Scout beginnings have evolved, disturbingly, into an increasingly tyrannical boorishness not unlike Italy's decadent media mogul Berlusconi -- though not with ambitious young starlets -- with a side order of paternalism (cig taxes, no trans-fats, upcoming pop tax, "Cover your mouths!") that, quite frankly, rankles. Mr. Mayor, get off our ass! We already have mothers, we don't need to elect another one to legislate from Gracie Mansion. From CityRoom:

"To the growing list of questions that Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg does not want to be asked, you can add one more.

"At a press conference in Queens on Thursday, Mr. Bloomberg was asked if an economic turnaround would undermine his initial reasoning for rewriting the city’s term limits law and seeking a third term, which was that a city in financial turmoil needed his steady hand and business background.

"Mr. Bloomberg interrupted the question, from the New York Observer reporter Azi Paybarah, having deemed it unworthy of his time, and even called the reporter 'a disgrace.'"

You dick!

In: The Real Housewives of DC. Can. Not. Wait. For. This. Of course, bad choices could fuck the whole shit up. Still, in a city brimming with great personalities like the wacky Alexandra Wentworth (Mrs. George Stephanopolos), the smart Ana Marie Cox (Mrs. Chris Lehmann) and the sassy Congresswoman Linda Sanchez, there are so many possibilities. And we live in an age of Celebrity Politics. From Politico:

"Bravo announced this week that it will bring its 'Real Housewives' program to Washington and is hard at work 'scouting the D.C. area to identify the city's alluring and discriminating residents ... women who have their pulse on the most important cultural events, political galas, gallery openings and fundraisers in Washington society.'

"We’re here to help – or at least handicap the search.

"Despite the show’s title, 'Real Housewives' doesn’t actually require women to be housewives — many of the 'housewives' featured on other versions of the show are accomplished women with impressive jobs — or not even married. Still, being single is the exception to the rule and, for the sake of consistency of our list, we’re including married women only.

"Sorry, MoDo."

Read more: "Who'll be 'Real Housewives of D.C.'?
Justice For Michael Musto

(image via papermag)

The purpose for ID checks at city nightlife establishments is to make sure that the guests are over 21. And we get that. We really do. But of late certain venues have taken the whole check ID thing waay too fucking far, veering into our comfort zone. The purpose is to keep out children, not to fuck with someone who is clearly a decade or so older than the designated legal drinking age. Oddly, even in the immediate aftermath of 911 things weren't this crazy. Since when is going to a party like visiting the Bloomberg headquarters? Even at private media events this blogger has witnessed members of the press turned away for not having either a current drivers license (how many subway-riding NYC residents have one? this is not Vermont!), or valid passports (just happen to be carrying it on me, let me whip it out, bouncer).

Twice over the past 6 months this blogger -- fucking goddam -- has been denied entrance to media events because we didn't have a drivers license or our passport at the ready. And it fucking sucks, man. Walk of shame -- the whole 9 yards, brother. This, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, is naught else but stupid shit. We will no longer be silent. And, as it had to happen, this growing trend just happened to backfire bigtime (bound to happen), denying entry to none other than Michael Musto -- only the city's best nightlife columnist. From Musto:

"You have to believe me on this one, folks. If you don't, I can produce a witness!

"he other night, I went with a friend to XES, the low-rent but often amusing gay bar in the West 20s. I figured, 'It's somewhere to go and I've been there a million times and it'll be cozy and I can impress my friend with the VIP treatment I'll surely be accorded and maybe I'll get a free Diet Coke and...' So wrong!

"Some freakazoid was sitting outside on a stool, demanding to see my ID. I guess my puffy, 900-year old puss and hunched over posture weren't enough proof that I'm of drinking age. (And I don't even drink anyway!) I gamely produced an ID card, but it wasn't good enough for this little mastermind (who by the way had a thick foreign accent. Does he even have a green card?). He needed to see a drivers' license or Passport to prove that I'm not a teen! The fact that my picture is in the dictionary under "Methuselah" somehow offered him no solace.

"Defeated, my friend and I had to crawl away and go to another bar, where I didn't get VIP treatment, but at least I got in!"

This prompted "Tony," who runs the joint-in-question to answer in the comments section:

"OMG! I'm the -- shall we say over 40 -- bald guy who runs XES Lounge. And it is my fault. I put the fear of god in my employees about letting in or serving the under 21 crowd. But, in my defense, the city puts the fear of an "out of business' sign in me. I'm hopeful that we can show a little more common sense in the future without compromising safety. I propose a Michael Musto night at XES to make ammends. What do you say? By the way, in the words of Billy Crystal, 'You look mahvelous, darling!'"

Tail between his legs, the rat bastard. But the apology is offered ex post facto, douchebag. Why is it that it is only the amateurs that have this problem? There is no "ID check" at Paper magazine parties, and they have been flawlessly lubricating the city's best and brightest for over a decade, smoothly. And the lines move briskly because IDs are not being pored over by illiterate goons in leather jackets at the door. It's the fucking newbies on the scene, the goddam contenders that go overboard on security -- insecure? -- that generally fuck the whole shit up, ruin the vibe.

Hey! You! Stupid mook at the door! Dumb muscle! Your job is to keep the kids out and let us in. And we mean YOU: John Varvatos on the Bowery, Stanton Public and Steve Madden. I'm naming names, I will not be ignored(And .. thanks for letting me vent, fellas)
So You Want To Be A Zombie?

"Paramedic #1 : You have no pulse, your blood pressure's zero-over-zero, you have no pupillary response, no reflexes and your temperature is 70 degrees.
Freddy : Well, what does that mean?
Paramedic #1 : Well, it's a puzzle because, technically, you're not alive. Except you're conscious, so we don't know what it means.
Freddy : Are you saying we're dead?
Paramedic #2 : Well, let's not jump to conclusions.
Freddy : Are you saying we're dead?
Paramedic #2 : No conclusions.
Paramedic #1 : Obviously I didn't mean you were really dead. Dead people don't move around and talk."
Return of the Living Dead

Zombies are the new black. As The West collapses under the weight of its own imperial hubris and thumoeideutic excess, the unded feast! Zombie banks walk among us; there is an emerging zombie literary genre; Rob Zombie. Hello? The Spenglerian decline presently unfolding will provide plenty of fresh carrion for the zombies to gnaw on.

The producers of the upcoming film Isle of the Dead are looking for 800 extras in NYC to play a zombie army for a scene in the film. RSVP to be a zombie on June 7th at Governors Island in NYC. Just send us your name and show up to the Governors Island ferry terminal at 11:45 am. RSVP by June 1st. I'm pretty sure you get the gig if you show up early.
Rahm Emmanuel Does "An Enormous Amount Of Sit-Ups"

(image via economist)

"Trautman: Look John, we can't have you running around out there killing friendly civilians.

"Rambo: There are no friendly civilians!"
-- First Blood

How does "Rahmbo" Emmanuel, the President's pitbull, stay in shape. He started with ballet, to be sure, but that only warms up the muscles and improves turnout and balance. Ballet is of no help when one has to choke-out an errant Congressman or put a rogue Cabinet member in a slam-jammie.

The Chief-of-Staff, that traditional gatekeeper of all-important face-time with POTUS, occasionally has to bust a few heads. What exercise, one wonders, is particularly helpful in squeezing up a United States Senator like a ripe mango? Sit-ups, people, sit-ups; Rahm Emmanuel swears by them. From Bloomberg:

"White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel starts many mornings with a workout in the U.S. House of Representatives gym. He also lifts weights.

"The real exercise is gathering political intelligence from his one-time colleagues about congressional action on health- care and energy legislation.

"He ends some days doing the same, dining with a bipartisan group of lawmakers at Bobby Van’s Steakhouse, three blocks from the White House.

Between doing 'an enormous amount of sit-ups,' Emanuel, 49, is 'doing what he’s always done,' said Representative Gregory Meeks, a Democrat from New York. 'He’s whipping us,' he added, referring to Emanuel’s skill at rounding up votes. 'He’s trying to figure out where we are.'

"With a corner office in the West Wing and walk-in privileges in the Capitol, Emanuel navigates two corridors of power in Washington as he helps Obama push through an agenda that has extended its reach into corporations such as Detroit- based General Motors Corp., Chrysler LLC in Auburn, Hills, Mich., and American International Group, with headquarters in New York."

Crunches are for pussies. Bet Rahm could crack a walnut 'tween his butt-cheeks. And 'neath those stuffy suits lie, in parallel construcion, like on the bust of Apollo, what can only be properly construed as "the sweet abs." Emanuel navigates two corridors of power in Washington, bestriding the capital like a colossus, accidentally-on-purpose teabagging all those who litter his glorious path.
Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"THE once press-shy Anna Wintour seems to be everywhere these days -- and with good reason. 'Conde Nast is a sinking ship,' an insider said. 'She's a smart woman and is looking to forge the next phase in her career.' The Vogue editor apparently has her eye on being an ambassador -- hence her close ties with President Obama's people and profiles on Michelle Obama and White House social secretary Desiree Rogers. 'Possibly ambassador to Britain,' our source said. A rep for Wintour said, 'Not true -- Anna is looking forward to a very busy fall here at Vogue.'" (PageSix)

"Tuesday night, Marc Jacobs threw quite the birthday party for his finance Lorenzo Martone. Let’s go over the details: Party at the restaurant/lounge on everyone’s radar (Avenue) that is yet to be opened? Check. Cocktails, sparklers, dancing and cake with 150 of the hottest guests in town including Julia Restoin Roitfeld, Genevieve Jones, DJ Jesus Lux, and Larry Gagosian? Check. Madonna!? Check." (Guestofaguest)

"I remember walking into a green room and seeing the head of a huge media company—I’m not going to tell you who—and a bunch of people who worked for him eating ’shrooms." (Paula Froelich//BlackBookmag)

"Elaine Kaufman, the quintessential New Yorker and saloonkeeper, met me for lunch amid the haute grandeur of Midtown’s Le Cirque, where its debonair owner, Sirio Maccioni, bowed before her in welcome. The ageless Elaine was about to celebrate her 80th birthday and, as always, was in feisty form .. Stories about Elaine’s famous patrons are legion. Nureyev and Baryshnikov danced a pas de trois with a chair one night. Elaine Stritch tended bar an entire summer just for the fun of it. Woody Allen shot the opening dinner scene of Manhattan there. Jackie Kennedy dined in the back of the room with Onassis. 'She sent Caroline and John over for dinner when they were teenagers and said, Look after them. Send me the bill, Elaine remembered. 'They lived round the corner.'" (VanityFair)

"When President Obama announced Leon E. Panetta as his pick to lead the CIA, some intelligence veterans bristled at the news. The agency had emerged from a divisive period under directors Porter J. Goss and George J. Tenet, and the last thing it needed, these critics groused, was a new director from outside the intelligence community. Moreover, they added, Panetta’s profile as a veteran Washington insider — a former Democratic congressman from California (1977-93), and chief of staff in the Clinton White House — made him a particularly bad fit for a job where loyalty to the agency matters most. Yet today, four months since he was picked, Panetta’s political background may be proving his greatest asset. Not only has he won over some detractors who had questioned his loyalty to the agency, he also appears, for now, to be successfully balancing the CIA’s need to keep its work quarantined as much as possible from external political influences and the mandate to improve the agency’s congressional relations, which had soured during George W. Bush ’s presidency. Two recent episodes involving intelligence messes left over from the Bush administration have showcased Panetta’s political acumen as he fights to maintain the CIA’s institutional stature. The first was Panetta’s handling of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ’s charges that the CIA misled her in 2002 about enhanced interrogation methods .. The same week, Panetta’s CIA also rebuffed the right, when former Vice President Dick Cheney requested that the agency declassify documents pertaining to the use of 'enhanced interrogation techniques.' Cheney, an outspoken defender of the methods, said he was confident that the public would be impressed with the results that those techniques had yielded. But the CIA quashed Cheney’s request, citing pending litigation that concerned interrogation matters. The new CIA chief also petitioned Obama to reverse an earlier decision to release additional photographs documenting the abuse of detainees. Panetta 'argued against the release of the photos,' said an intelligence official, speaking on condition of anonymity to talk more openly." (CQPolitics)

"(I)f you get to be a mayor in a big city, you’ll be able to distinguish between police sirens and ambulance sirens. When I hear an ambulance siren—unfortunately—this sounds so morbid, but you always send up a prayer because you know they’re either rushing to pick somebody up or taking somebody to the hospital. For police sirens, you check your BlackBerry real quick, to make sure nothing serious is happening. That was an ambulance siren .. love the speculation that you can’t be friends with somebody. I guess it’s a When Harry Met Sally question. But Gayle (King) is a really, really good friend, and somebody I hang out with a lot. I just saw a movie with her very recently. We saw, God, why am I forgetting the name of it? But sometimes we go out together and we’ll run into paparazzi. She’s a great friend. She jokes on her radio show all the time that she’s the unofficial first lady of the City of Newark, a title I’ll happily give her. But there’s nothing romantic. " (Mayor Cory Booker/TheDailyBeast)

(in the belly of the Hollywood Beast via thewrap)

"The President, speaking to a dinner that included Hollywood A-listers like Kiefer Sutherland, Marisa Tomei, Jamie Foxx, Ron Howard and Steven Spielberg, lauded the legislation he has signed since taking office but added that he is 'not satisfied. I'm confident in the future, but I'm not yet content,' Obama said. The celebrity dinner, which cost couples $30,400 to attend, was followed by a larger, lower-dollar concert that all told raised between $3 million and $4 million for the Democratic National Committee (DNC). Joining the celebrities feting Obama were Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and Republican-turned-Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.), 'the newest member of our caucus.' Obama was introduced by Dreamworks CEO and longtime Democratic donor Jeffrey Katzenberg. The president thanked Katzenberg, saying: "If it weren't for you, we would not be in the White House.'" (TheHill)

"Barack Obama's appearance in Beverly Hills on Wednesday night brought out the stars...and their checkbooks. The event at the Beverly Hilton was expected to raise $3 million to $4 million and was like a giant Hollywood premiere, with Jeffrey Katzenberg, Steven Spielberg, Ron Howard, Seth Rogen, Kiefer Sutherland, Jamie Foxx and Tyler Perry on hand, as well as Jennifer Hudson and Earth, Wind and Fire. About 1,000 people attended, with tickets running $1,000 to $2,500 each. In addition, 125 couples paid around $30,000 each for a dinner and a photo with Obama. The Preseident's L.A. visit came after an appearance in Las Vegas Tuesday night at a Caesar’s Palace fundraiser that brought in $2 million for incumbent Harry Reid. That event saw the President share billing with Bette Midler and Sheryl Crow." (TheWrap)

"A neighbor of mine, Joan Stanton, died last Thursday at 94. I was surprised to learn of her great age for although I hadn’t seen her in the past couple of years, I would have taken her for a couple of decades younger. We met seventeen years ago when I was first back in New York and staying with a friend who had an apartment at 10 Gracie Square where Joan lived. She’d been a well known New York radio and stage actress in her younger years which were the 1940s and 1950s when New York dominated much of American entertainment with radio, television and the Broadway stage. She was great company to this writer who is always fascinated with the history of New York and theatre and culture as seen through the eyes of the players." (NYSocialDiary)

"Although the ongoing offensive suggests that Pakistan may finally be committed to confronting the threat of militancy within its borders, its reliance on overwhelming, and often indiscriminate, firepower suggests that the military's longtime focus on a conventional war against India has left it unequipped to launch a sophisticated counterinsurgency with the tactics necessary to maintain public confidence in the campaign. Karimdad told me that he is doubtful the military will ever gain a decisive victory. 'There will be another compromise,' he said. 'Then there will be another dispute. Then they'll both start killing people again.'" (ForeignAffairs)

"The No on Prop 8 rally/march last night in West Hollywood was a celebrity lovefest. The crowd screamed when Drew Barrymore took the mic and announced 'I am so honored to be here and I don't want to live in a world where there is Proposition 8.' After, Barrymore hugged ecstatic fans and posed for endless camera phone shots. Kathy Griffin showed up with her 89-year-old mother Maggie and a reality film crew. Griffin introduced her mother as 'my gay loving and box wine loving mom.' Maggie is a staple at gay bars like Rage and worked the scene from her wheelchair like a true club kid. I also ran into stars like Daniel Franzese, Perez Hilton, adorable couple Kelly Osbourne and model Luke Worrall, Blink-182's hot-looking Mark Hoppus, Emmy Rossum, Adam Shankman, Sophia Bush, Jai Rodriguez, Pete Wentz and hunk trainer Bob Harper from The Biggest Loser. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa spoke eloquently .." (Peter Davis/Papermag)

"The weather wasn't cooperating, but that didn't stop the likes of Mayor Bloomberg, Glenn Close, Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, and Richard Meier from crowding into the Museum of Modern Art on Tuesday night for the 41st annual Party in the Garden. DJ Cassidy manned the tables before Estelle, the Grammy-winning British import, took the stage to sing her hits 'American Boy' and 'Come Over' along with a cover of Coldplay's 'God Put a Smile Upon Your Face' (inevitably an improvement on the original). But the songstress, who switched from Alexander McQueen to Rachel Roy for her performance, had more than music on her mind. 'I hope I'll have some time to sneak off and go see some cool art,' she said. The event, which raised over $1.8 million, honors the artists featured over the past year in solo exhibitions and benefits the museum's Annual Fund."

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Review: Mercury In Retrograde

Who would have thought that Page Six's Paula Froelich was funny? The infamous column embodies all the hallmarks of New York spirit -- ferocious, gossipy, always interesting and smart. But in Mercury in Retrograde, Froelich adds a sparkling sense of humor to the resume. Froelich's story involves the lives of three women residing at the same SoHo address.

Penelope Mercury, the first of the three that we meet, is a good natured journalist transplanted from Ohio -- not dissimilar to Froelich -- who is looking to gain a solid foothold on the social ladder of the media capitol of the world. Dana Gluck is a successful lawyer -- some might say workaholic -- recovering from a bad divorce. Her rich, coarse husband left her for a Russian Victoria's Secret model and in the process the sharp-eyed legal mind managed to extract from Mr. Unfaithful a fifth floor SoHo penthouse. Rounding out the trio is Lena "Lipstick" Carcrash, a socialite with a heart of gold, in the process of becoming something quite different. When the glamorous magazine editor is cut off by her billionaire father, she is forced to live in a scruffy apartment in SoHo. There she meets dana and Penelope. Let the games begin.

The three women bond over a yoga class in Dana Gluck's penthouse. Penelope, Dana and Lena are quite different characters. Dana, the corporate lawyer, has weight and self-esteem issues stemming from the aforementioned asshole ex-husband. Those issues are further exacerbated by the fact that the Russian model in question has the gall to briskly get pregnant, something she could not do with her ex. Gluck is also, unglamorously, losing her hair as a result of her mad pursuit of becoming the youngest partner ever at her law firm. And Dana Gluck has no social life.

Penelope Mercury escaped Cincinnati. It is here that Froelich is at her arch best, lampooning, lovingly, the absurdities of Middle America (In fairness, they would probably talk trash about Godless Manhattan). But there always hangs over Penelope the possibility that if she fails, Cincinnati looms (rhymes, of course, with dooms). It doesn't help that the adorably clumsy Penelope -- nice touch -- gets fired at the beginning of the book, taking the technicolor yawn all over her boss, nearly burning down the building in the process. Froelich handles Mercury with a real sweetness and vulnerability, rendering her a Young Media Everywoman, a deeply sympathetic figure. We are rooting for Young Mercury to win at the outset. Mercury -- the planet, not the pretty young New Yorker -- is also in retrograde, which causes all sorts of problems for this New York trio.

The character who undergoes the most change in Mercury in Retrograde is Lena "Lipstick" Carcrash. Her CV is the usual for the well born of that species -- Spence, blond, social columnist at a glossy Manhattan magazine -- but there is something special about Lena. Most socialites are characterized by a certain callousness, and, further, an almost languid lack of industry. They live the pampered life of high-quality veal. If left to their own devices, socialites would simply wilt like neglected orchids. Not so with Lena, who has a huge capacity for friendship as well as an appreciation of hard work that is somewhat alien to the usual behavior exhibited by socialites.

Instead of wilting in the absence of her Sun King Daddy's golden coin, Lena blooms. We realize that her old life, a life of following shallowly the rules of her class, is essentially meaningless. Worse: it is boring. Her bitchy nemesis Bitsy Farmdale unexamined life pales by comparison to what Lena is becoming. In joining the working class, Lena's industry -- which lay dormant under the heavy influence of Daddy's checkbook -- comes to the fore. Unable to purchase name designers that are imperative to her high-status job, "Lipstick Carcrash" is forced to rely on her own devices, cleverly sewing together last year's gowns with their quality fabrics into fashions inspired by classic fashion magazines supplied, dutifully, by her stylish gay friend. What she creates can only be properly construed as brimming with maximum fabulosity. And in the process, something changes in Lena. From Mercury in Retrograde:

"Her life was so busy that she rarely had the time to check the site anymore and obsess over her ranking. She'd look at it casually at work, but it didn't seem to matter. All of the people who she'd been 'friends' with for years just seemed to want something from her. They wanted Lipstick to put them in Y, or cover their gala, or to be photographed with them as now that Lipstick was so popular with, they knew a picture with Lipstick would ensure that their visage was posted onto the website alongside hers.

"It was tiresome. All Lipstick wanted to do was go home and sew more, to do something she felt so passionate about, and create a tangible product. She loved darting dresses and hemming skirts. She adored creating confections out of her own clothes and fitting them to her -- or Penelope's, or Dana's -- body. And when a dress or skirt was done, there was the satisfaction of wearing it or seeing it posted on the website and then being praised by people who had no idea where the clothes had come from. It was the purest form of flattery with no strings attached, because no one could figure out who the designer was; they just wanted the clothes.

"The few hours of spare time she had were spent with Penelope and Dana, who didn't care what her father did for a living or where she shopped. They were just fun. And for the first time in her life, Lipstick felt accepted for who she was, not what she was -- or who her parents were."

Friendship, fashion, career and relationships are the dominant themes at work in this fun book. We read it in a couple of days and although clearly in the chick-lit category (all the main characters are women, men are but fleeting shadows on this stage), we thoroughly enjoyed the time well spent in the company of these charming New York women. Buy this book especially if you are a young woman on the make and also if you are a young man interested by those young women on the make. Will Penelope gain a solid foothold in the unforgiving New York media world? Will Dana make partner and ultimately learn to love herself? Will Lipstick Carcrash manage to make it on her own, navigating the life of a wage-slave without a trust fund? You'll have to read Paula Froelich's own creative confection, which we heartily recommend.
Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"Bill Clinton loves to shop. On a March day in an elegant crafts store in Lima, the Peruvian capital, he hunted for presents for his wife and the women on his staff back home. He had given a speech at a university earlier and just came from a ceremony kicking off a program to help impoverished Peruvians. Now he was eyeing a necklace with a green stone amulet. Standing all by himself, the former president of the United States moved his eyes methodically across shelves of wooden carvings, jewelry and sculptures as he searched for something distinctive to bring his wife. 'She used to look forward to me coming home from wherever I’ve been,' he mused with a laugh. 'Now I’m afraid I’ll be second fiddle to whatever world leader she’s just met.'" (NYTimes)

"Mel Gibson and his estranged wife, Robyn, have been separated for two-and-a-half years, so maybe it’s his business that he’s expecting a baby with one of three Oksanas that he’s been linked with in the press in recent weeks. But Gibson has been popping up on the talk-show circuit, appearing on Jimmy Kimmel in February and joking with Jay Leno on Monday night about the fact that baby No. 8 is on the way with Russian musician Oksana Grigorieva. 'I guess I’m Octo-Mel now,' he said. The line got a courtesy laugh but behind the appearance is a serious motive. Next year Warner Bros. will release Edge of Darkness, Gibson’s first starring role since M. Night Shyamalan’s Signs in 2002. The British thriller has a good pedigree in that it’s directed by Martin Campbell (Casino Royale) and written by William Monahan (The Departed). The question is how Gibson now plays to the public." (TheDailyBeast)

"The town is still coming back from the long holiday weekend respite. If they were anywhere last night it was over at the Museum of Modern Art for their 41st annual Party in the Garden. Cocktails at 7, dinner at 8 and after-dinner reception (more guests) at 9 ... Yesterday afternoon I got an email from my friend Paige Peterson about her son Peter Cary Peterson’s part in another BRAVO 'reality show,' NYC Prep. The workaday world’s version of rich kids. Then later in the afternoon we received Washington Social Diary’s Carol Joynt column writing about BRAVO’s plans for a Washington, D.C. Housewives reality show, and who she thinks could and would." (NYSocialDiary)

"The map’s new seamlessness can be seen in the Pakistani outpost of Gwadar. There, on the Indian Ocean, near the Iranian border, the Chinese have constructed a spanking new deep-water port. Land prices are booming, and people talk of this still sleepy fishing village as the next Dubai, which may one day link towns in Central Asia to the burgeoning middle-class fleshpots of India and China through pipelines, supertankers, and the Strait of Malacca. The Chinese also have plans for developing other Indian Ocean ports in order to transport oil by pipelines directly into western and central China, even as a canal and land bridge are possibly built across Thailand’s Isthmus of Kra. Afraid of being outflanked by the Chinese, the Indians are expanding their own naval ports and strengthening ties with both Iran and Burma, where the Indian-Chinese rivalry will be fiercest. These deepening connections are transforming the Middle East, Central Asia, and the Indian and Pacific oceans into a vast continuum, in which the narrow and vulnerable Strait of Malacca will be the Fulda Gap of the 21st century." (ForeignPolicy)

"Chicago businessman Chris Kennedy, a son of the late New York Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, appears likely to launch a 2010 Senate bid in Illinois. This candidacy would make him the latest in the famed family's 'second generation' to enter the political fray. It also would lengthen the list of Democrats who are either certain to run or are thinking about running in the February primary for the seat held by interim Democratic Sen. Roland W. Burris, whose appointment to the seat Barack Obama vacated to become president has remained controversial and unpopular. The Chicago Sun-Times has reported that Kennedy could announce his plans this week." (CQPolitics)

"Last night John Demsey, Chairman of MAC Cosmetics, threw a party at his Upper East Side townhouse in honor of Page Six gossip writer Paula Froelich’s new book, 'Mercury In Retrograde.' 'Mercury In Retrograde' sounds a bit like a mix between 'Sex in the City' and 'Friends,' apparently telling the story of three successful and, of course, social New York ladies who all reside in a Soho building together. We’re sure Froelich’s own experiences and her years observing the women out on the town will no doubt provide for some entertaining reading .. Guests at the soiree included Adam Lippes, Constance Jablonski, Emanuela De Paula, Richie Rich, Katrina Bowden, Alice and Olivia designer Stacey Bendet, Cornelia Guest, and Hoda Hotb among others." (Guestofaguest)

"JODIE Sweetin, who played lovable Stephanie Tanner on 'Full House,' will bare her past as a secret drug abuser in a new tell-all. In 'UnSweetined,' coming from Simon Spotlight Entertainment, the pixie-faced blond star describes how she began doing methadone, cocaine and ecstasy as well as developing a booze habit. Spinning 'a web of lies,' she secretly continued to use drugs while she toured the country giving anti-drug speeches at colleges. She finally straightened out after she discovered she was pregnant." (PageSix)

(Eva Herzigova and Claudia Schiffer via fashionweekdaily)

"'I'm still saving up for the boys' fabulous night!' quipped Dita Von Teese at 2 a.m. on Thursday night, the evening (or morning?) before Dolce & Gabbana's usual Cannes bash. And Teese meant it--she understood that the guests at the sixth annual affair weren't expected to sit around and nibble on cheese and crackers. Instead, the dance floor awaited. With the guest list at Le Baoli reduced significantly from last year--and the VIP room completely abolished--there was no escaping the music for those invited by the duo to close out the Festival Friday night. 'This has truly become our favorite little party of the year,' smiled an elated Domenico Dolce. 'We come here and spend time on Stefano [Gabbana]'s yacht, see friends, and really leave happy and relaxed.' Carine Roitfeld, son Vladimir and Anna Dello Russo immediately hit the metallic dance floor, with Claudia Schiffer and Eva Herzigova joining them immediately after." (Fashionweekdaily)

"Marc Jacobs: 'My husband-to-be and I will be buying a house together. And he and I want children. And we are very much in love. One other thing I can tell you is, I won't wear white.'" (CindyAdams)

"Memorable for its in-your-face sensationalism, the 62nd Cannes Film Festival opened with the 3-D computer animation Up, saving the 'Yours' for the final minutes of the competition's penultimate movie, Gaspar Noé's 'psychedelic melodrama' Enter the Void. The sad, tawdry, monstrously inflated tale of two traumatized club kids adrift in the neon wilderness of downtown Tokyo, Enter the Void climaxed, so to speak, with a wide-screen, simulated vagi-cam mega-close-up of a Brobdingnagian penis, thrustin' atcha." (VVoice)

"President Obama's nomination of Sonia Sotomayor -- born to a Puerto Rican family in the South Bronx -- to be the next associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States may be the kind of political master stroke that puts Obama on the glidepath to reelection. How? By locking in Florida, a state without which any hopes of a GOP comeback in 2012 dwindle virtually to nothing .. Barack Obama became the first non-Southern Democrat since Franklin Roosevelt to carry Florida's 27 electoral votes, winning the state by 236,450 votes in 2008 .. Given the apparent popularity of recent Obama Administration policy moves with regard to remittances and travel to Cuba, it appears at least possible, if not likely, that Obama can hold and possibly even expand his reach into the Cuban-American community during his expected reelection campaign in 2012." (CQPolitics)

"There is a deep connection I will never be able to make with a person who actively dislikes The Big Lebowski." (Cinematical)

"It's been long in the works. But now the executive shuffling and pinkslipping may be finally coming down this week -- as soon as Thursday? -- as Steve McPherson consolidates his power as head of ABC Entertainment Group overseeing both ABC Entertainment and ABC Studios. Here's what sources are telling me: Channing Dungey is leaving ABC Studios as SVP of drama development, to head drama at ABC Entertainment. She'll replace Suzanne Patmore-Gibbs, who currently is EVP of drama development at ABC Entertainment and is being elevated to No 2 under Steve McPherson to oversee comedy and drama." (DeadlineHollywoodDaily)

"For a man slowed by health issues, Clinton still stays up late at night chewing cigars and playing Oh, Hell, a card game Steven Spielberg taught him in 2000, recruiting Giustra, Band and anyone else he can get to play. He obsessively works the Times crossword puzzle, enlisting others to figure out clues. After getting stuck one night on 'big catch of 2003' ('Hussein'), he handed me the completed puzzle the next morning." (NYTimes)